Zuma’s kids and Murray join legal challenge

2012-05-23 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s children and artist Brett Murray received permission to become part of the ANC’s court case against the Goodman Gallery and sister newspaper City Press.

The ANC and the president’s children want Jacob Zuma’s portrait removed from the gallery and from the City Press website.

ANC supporters gathered outside the high court in Johannesburg yesterday to show their support. Many wore T-shirts which read: “We say no to the abuse of artistic expression.”

Murray, who received permission to become a respondent in the case, did not attend the court hearing.

His attorney, Emma Sadleir, said he became involved because he was directly affected by the case and wanted his voice heard.

The urgent application had just concluded when news broke of the vandalism at the gallery. The case was postponed until tomorrow to be heard by three judges.

A spokesperson for the gallery’s law firm said the case would continue, although the painting had been damaged.

Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, who briefly heard the case on the urgent court roll yesterday, said the case was to be heard by a full bench, as it was of national importance and public interest and went in to the heart of the Constitution.

In her application to be admitted as one of the applicants, Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, said the portrait of her father with his genitals exposed constituted hate speech.

She also said that she and her younger siblings could no longer “freely mingle with the public without a deep feeling of being ostracised by the demeaning discussions about my father’s private parts”.

She said Zuma’s children’s constitutional rights were being violated, especially the right enshrined in Section 28(1)(d), which prohibits the abuse and degradation of children.

“My little brothers and sisters are exposed to abuse by other children in schools and colleges when their father’s sexual organs are publicly displayed and discussed on radio stations and talk shows,” she said.

In his affidavit Zuma said City Press was not “constitutionally entitled or obliged” to publish Murray’s painting.

Zuma also responded to the newspaper’s assertion that the painting might be regarded as legitimate comment due to the president’s admitting to having had sex with women who are not his wives, his relationship with Schabir Shaik and his handling of the Richard Mdluli saga.

“It is clear from the allegations set out in this paragraph that the antipathy by some people towards me such as the [City Press] has driven them to the belief that I am not worthy of any respect and that I should, therefore, be stripped of all dignity.”

“It will be argued at the hearing of this matter that not even the perpetrators of the most horrendous crimes have been stripped of their inherent right to dignity,” Zuma said.

The newspaper’s executive editor, Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya, wrote in his affidavit that other world leaders had been painted as naked — including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was depicted as a reclining nude in Margaret Sutherland’s work, Emperor Haute Couture.

But Zuma said the reference to that painting was “unhelpful” and “ignores the South African context”.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Film and Publications Board, Yoliswa Makhasi, last night recused herself from a meeting between the board and the Goodman Gallery and City Press. This after it came to light that she had already spoken out against the Murray painting on Twitter and that the board had decided to classify the painting as pornography. She has since deleted her Twitter profile.

The meeting will continue later today.

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